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Interstate Travel: Understanding Article 926A of FOPA

It shouldn't be this complicated, but the various confusing and sometimes conflicting gun laws across the country make it difficult to traverse the roadways of America with a firearm legally.

In this article, I'm will briefly discuss concepts of reciprocity.

However, the primary focus of this post will be Article 926A of the Firearm Owner Protection Act and its application in transporting firearms across different state lines.

What is Concealed Carry License Reciprocity?

Most gun owners with concealed carry permits understand the general idea of reciprocity.

Each state independently decides what other state permits they will choose to “honor” in their own state. Some states honor all permits, while others honor no outside state permits. And some states enter reciprocity agreements based on specific criteria.

When traveling with a gun, the first step before hitting the roadways is to check the reciprocity map to see which states honor your concealed carry permit(s). Our reciprocity map builder is (I'm a little bias) the best tool on the internet. You can input any combination of resident and non-resident permits and it will output a green and red map.

concealed carry reciprocity map builder

Click here to use our map builder

States That Have Reciprocity —

The Green states honor your permit. This means law enforcement treats your out-of-state permit just like a resident permit. Clearly, this is a good thing, but you need to be careful. Each state's gun laws are very different. You need to follow the gun laws of the state you're in, even if they honor your license.

If you travel, I encourage you to consider this resource called Legal Boundaries by State. This comprehensive book includes individual state gun laws, as well as information on air travel and more on this topic of interstate travel. We commit to keeping it updated, and publish new volumes more than once a year. It's available as a physical book, or downloadable e-book.

LBBS book

States that Don't Have Reciprocity —

The states that do NOT honor your permit/license show up in red on our map. As opposed to green states, law enforcement in these states looks at you the same as anyone in their state that does NOT have a valid permit.

What does that ultimately mean? Again, each state is different and has different laws that govern what you can do with a gun and where you can have it and how you can transport it in that state. This essentially leaves you with two options:

welcome to new jersey road sign

 

OPTION 1: Research and become compliant with each individual state's firearm laws as you pass through them. It is a challenge to be sure. You can look online to find the statutes and attempt to interpret them. Consult legal counsel if necessary. You can contact a state police or state patrol and ask them for information, but truthfully, you'll probably get conflicting information.

One thing you DON'T want to do is ask legal questions in online forums. Not only will you definitely get conflicting information, but from what I've seen online, it's not only conflicting, but almost always WRONG.

Tools such as our mobile app and The Legal Boundaries by State Travel book I mentioned before contain excellent state legal summaries that can help with that research required.

OPTION 2: Meet the requirements outlined in Article 926A of the Firearm Owner Protection Act, which is a federal law that protects your ability to travel across state lines with a firearm, which is our main point of discussion.

trauma gear banner

How To Travel Using 926A As Your Legal Method —

Congress passed The Federal Firearm Owner Protection Act in 1986 to address the abuses of the Gun Control Act of 1968. Among its many provisions is article 926A, which states:

Notwithstanding any other provision of any law or any rule or regulation of a State or any political subdivision thereof, any person who is not otherwise prohibited by this chapter from transporting, shipping, or receiving a firearm shall be entitled to transport a firearm for any lawful purpose from any place where he may lawfully possess and carry such firearm to any other place where he may lawfully possess and carry such firearm if, during such transportation the firearm is unloaded, and neither the firearm nor any ammunition being transported is readily accessible or is directly accessible from the passenger compartment of such transporting vehicle: Provided, That in the case of a vehicle without a compartment separate from the driver’s compartment the firearm or ammunition shall be contained in a locked container other than the glove compartment or console.

So essentially you can transport any firearm from anywhere you can have it to anywhere you can legally have it if you meet the following conditions:

  1. You are not prohibited otherwise from transporting, shipping, or receiving a firearm. Those who are prohibited probably already know it. So if you don't think this applies to you and haven't been convicted of a felony … you are probably good!
  2. You are transporting a firearm. Transporting is a keyword in this provision. This law doesn't apply to someone who drives into New York City and stays there for 2 weeks on business or vacation. That isn't “transporting” a firearm through New York State. Most legal experts agree that reasonable stops, such as filling up with gas or eating a meal while traveling through a state, still meet the requirements of “transporting.”
  3. You are transporting the firearm for a “Lawful Purpose.” If you are on your way to another state to commit a crime, then this provision can't apply to you.
  4. During the transportation:
    1. The firearm is unloaded. That means there is no ammunition in the firearm.
    2. Both the firearm and any ammunition are NOT readily accessible or directly accessible from the passenger compartment of the transporting vehicle. You can do this by removing the firearm from the passenger compartment and placing them in the trunk or some other separate compartment. Another option is to store the firearm within the passenger compartment so that no passengers can readily access it.
      1. If your vehicle doesn't have a compartment separate from the driver's, such as a truck, the firearm or ammunition shall be contained in a locked container, OTHER THAN, the glove compartment or console.

transporting a gun in compliance with Article 926A

An Important Note About Prohibited Items —

Some state legislatures enacted laws prohibiting things like “high-capacity” magazines, and “assault weapons.” Each state's statutes may vary on how many rounds it takes to qualify as high-capacity.

If you have a 15 round magazine, and travel through a state that criminalizes possession of a magazine with a capacity over 10 rounds, 926A will not protect you. A US District Court addressed the issue in Coalition of New Jersey Sportsmen v. Florio

The plaintiffs Covey and Mohler contend that:

…the recent amendments to New Jersey's gun control law are preempted by the federal statute providing for the interstate transportation of firearms. 18 U.S.C. § 926A. The federal statute provides, in essence, that anyone may transport firearms from one state in which they are legal, through another state in which they are illegal, to a third state in which they are legal, provided the firearms are transported in a prescribed, safe manner.[14] Plaintiffs argue that, under the recent amendments, they may be arrested for transporting firearms through New Jersey, even though they have complied with the federal statute. 

Here is what the court found:

18 U.S.C. § 927. The Court sees no conflict between § 926A and New Jersey's recently amended gun control law. The risk that a person transporting firearms in accordance with § 926A will be arrested in New Jersey for possessing an illegal firearm or magazine is the same risk that person encounters whenever he or she drives through a state where such weapons are illegal. For plaintiffs' predicted irreparable injury to become realized, law enforcement officers … Moreover, the Court is aware of no requirement that the New Jersey law must contain an express acknowledgement of the Supremacy Clause and preemptive legislation in order to pass constitutional muster. Accordingly, plaintiffs' interstate transportation claim must fail as a matter of law, and will be dismissed. An order consistent with this opinion will be entered.

I know that is a lot to say right now, at least in New Jersey, you're likely to be arrested with “high-capacity” magazines even if you're transporting in compliance with 926A. As one reader appropriately commented, “friends don't let friends take a firearm into New Jersey.”

Article 926A, in Conclusion —

If you are traveling through states that otherwise don't honor your permit(s), research and follow that state's law relative to the transporting and vehicle possession of a firearm. Or, follow the requirements of 926A which you know protect you anywhere.

**A Warning. While the Firearm Owner Protection Act exists and provides you with these protections, that doesn't mean that every local officer in every local state is aware of and fully clear on Article 926A!

What's worse is that time and time again, New York and New Jersey law enforcement simply ignores Article 926A and arrests gun owners who comply with the federal law.

Consider this story about Shaneen Allen's experience in New Jersey.

Public enemy #1 in New York. This mother who had no criminal history faced 3 years in prison.

If there is any question as to your compliance with 926A, the officer may arrest you, and make you prove to the District Attorney (DA) that you were, in-fact, complying with all the provisions.

If you're interested in learning about other gun laws that don't protect the public, and only turn law-abiding American gun-owners into felons, check out this post.

Using Article 926A as a defense is not an easy legal fight, and police chiefs and DAs with anti-gun ideologies know it. If you frequently travel through states hostile to gun rights, it may be worth it to research a gun law attorney beforehand. Gun law differs from self-defense law, and self-defense insurance companies may not represent your Article 926A defense. That doesn't mean self defense insurance isn't worth your consideration.

link to comparison of insurance companies

What other thoughts, comments or questions do you have about the interstate travel of a firearm? Let us know in the comments below.

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39 Responses to Interstate Travel: Understanding Article 926A of FOPA

  1. Al June 2, 2018 at 8:30 pm #

    Thank you.
    I often wondered if I were traveling from Michigan to Missouri bypassing Chicago, if I could transport legally a handgun.
    This article answers that question.
    Stay on the freeway, don’t stop for nothing but gas, and get far away from Chicago as fast as possible.

    • David Currie July 18, 2018 at 4:13 pm #

      Well Illinois does allow anyone with a CCW they do not recognize to carry concealed in their vehicle. You must leave it in your vehicle when you get out of it.

    • Ray Aitkins July 24, 2020 at 12:35 pm #

      What about those of us who qualify under LEOSA. I am a retired Deputy Sheriff, and have been issued a permit under 926c. Would I possibly run into any problems in Chicago or New York or New Jersey?

  2. Dar June 3, 2018 at 6:42 pm #

    What do they consider to be a container? Does a range bag or duffle bag qualify if they are locked? Do the ammo and firearm have to be separated, or can they be in the same container?
    I normally follow FTA rules for flying when I am driving interstate road trips.
    Thanks for the timely reminder!

    • Jacob Paulsen June 5, 2018 at 4:38 pm #

      The law doesn’t say anything about separating the gun from the ammo although doing so may be a strategy to achieve “not readily accessible”

      It doesn’t specify any requirements for the container beyond it not being a glove compartment or console. That said I think the law infers that the container be secure and I don’t think a soft cased anything qualifies. A little Jacob opinion on that one.

  3. Monty August 2, 2018 at 7:36 am #

    Does a locked, secured gun vault that is still readily accessible (within reach) from the passenger or drivers compartment (such as under the seat) qualify? If it is secured to the vehicle and locked, it’s only “readily accessible” for those who know the combination, but that seems like a gray area.

    • Jacob Paulsen August 2, 2018 at 7:42 am #

      The law doesn’t say it can’t be readily accessible only for unauthorized users. It says it can’t be readily accessible by anyone in the passenger compartment. So in my own opinion that would not count.

      • Monty August 2, 2018 at 7:46 am #

        So to clarify, a locked, secured vault is not technically qualified as “not readily accessible” by itself? That was the crux of the question. Sounds like it needs to be physically out of reach as well? Thanks for your info and articles 🙂

      • JimB July 24, 2020 at 2:19 pm #

        Jacob; In your opening bullet points you state “In the case that your vehicle doesn’t have a compartment separate from the driver’s compartment the firearm or ammunition shall be contained in a locked container OTHER THAN the glove compartment or console.” This seems contrary to this comment, from my perspective of a driver of a pickup.

        • Jacob Paulsen July 24, 2020 at 2:40 pm #

          JimB, it is a weird mixing of words. Let me try to clarify. Regardless of type of vehicle, the law clearly says “neither the firearm nor any ammunition being transported is readily accessible or is directly accessible from the passenger compartment of such transporting vehicle.” So, using a lockbox that can be readily accessed by the driver while driving is in my opinion contrary to the law. Second, the law specifies that if you have a vehicle that does not have a separate compartment other than the driver’s compartment (such as an average pickup), in that case, the law further clarifies that the firearm must be in a locked container (other than the glove compartment on console). I hope that helps

  4. ABCG August 2, 2018 at 6:06 pm #

    My 2 cents…it is better to be safe than sorry. So, safely and discreetly unload inside your vehicle, secure your firearm in a locked box and seperate from the ammunition (magazines should be unloaded also even if it is detached from the handgun) then step out of your vehicle (be aware of your surroundings at all times) and safely stow both the locked box containing your firearm and the box containing your ammunition in the trunk of your vehicle. I believe this move will comply with all the laws…even that of New Jersey.

  5. Dan August 26, 2018 at 7:11 am #

    We have a travel trailer and will be going cross country. If we stop overnight or stay a few days in one of these “RED” states, as long as I keep my weapons in a safe in the camper would I be on compliance?

    • Jacob Paulsen August 26, 2018 at 5:03 pm #

      If you stop overnight or stay a few days you are arguably no longer within the guidelines of 926A and would need to be compliant with that state’s specific laws which of course vary from state to state.

    • Phil Heimburg January 11, 2020 at 11:51 am #

      What if you are Driving a Motorhome through state’s

      • Jacob Paulsen January 13, 2020 at 7:10 am #

        Phil, some states have specific laws and allowances for motorhomes and RVs but for most you would just treat it as a dwelling or habitation.

  6. Owen Carney March 5, 2019 at 2:51 pm #

    Great map. But what states will not honor the Law Enforcement Officers Safety Act as it relates to qualified retired LEO’s?

  7. Frank Drakman April 15, 2019 at 12:31 am #

    Does nyc have a pass thru law i have been told yes and no i know ny state does but new york city is a issue all by its self this is a question i cant get a straight answer and to get to the northeast you have to go thru new York city

    • Joshua Gillem April 15, 2019 at 8:15 am #

      Hey Frank, what NYC has is what the rest of the country has–called 926A. Under this federal provision you’re allowed to travel interstate with your firearm as long as you’re traveling to a destination where you can legally have it, and are traveling from a place where you can legally have it and aren’t stopping in an area that’s largely considered no-go. Also, local laws should be followed.

      That does not mean that NYC won’t jam you up if you drive through there and get pulled over. Unfortunately, many of the police officers don’t know federal law. So, I’ve traveled that way before on my way from Pennsylvania to Vermont and the route did not take me downtown but remained on the highway.

      I’ve spoken to a lawyer once about this and he recommended not stopping. His argument was that, once you stop, your travel is no longer continuous and may be viewed as illegal. Literally, just pass through. That route takes you around NYC. Then again, I’m not a lawyer and nothing I say should be construed as legal advice.

      I recommend you checking this out, next:

      Legal Boundaries by State
      And our mobile app

      Both are filled to the brim with excellent info about traveling, reciprocity, etc.

      Hope this helps,

      Josh

  8. thomas tharpe June 18, 2020 at 3:52 pm #

    great course

  9. Ordinary Bob July 24, 2020 at 3:36 pm #

    I own two homes, one in Massachusetts, and one in Florida. I’m a resident of Florida, and have a concealed carry license. My Massachusetts resident concealed carry hasn’t expired. Can I transport my handgun between homes, keeping it locked in the commie states, and only keeping it in my Mass home (not carrying out of home)?

    • Jacob Paulsen July 24, 2020 at 3:43 pm #

      Ordinary Bob, I’m not sure if your MA permit is valid even if it hasn’t expired. I think, and I could be wrong, that MA requires you be a resident of their state to have a valid resident permit and I don’t know what they require to qualify as being a resident. But that aside, assuming you transport the firearm following the conditions mentioned above when you are traveling through each state then your transportation through all those states is lawful assuming you can legally possess the firearm in your home in MA.

      • Ordinary Bob July 24, 2020 at 8:20 pm #

        Thanks, that’s aligned with what I was thinking, but wanted another opinion. I’ll try not to test this.

  10. TERRY July 24, 2020 at 4:07 pm #

    I ride a motorcycle. I assume that I can lock up the firearm in my luggage container since I’m not able to access it while I’m driving.

  11. Shelia Kirby September 1, 2020 at 7:30 am #

    I understand that the Federal law 926A gives me the right to transport my firearm through other states that doesn’t accept my permit just as long as I don’t stay in that state and not having my firearm readily assessable

  12. Greg October 26, 2020 at 3:52 pm #

    So I’m about to head to New York State from North Carolina to get my wife’s car inspected; I hold my CCW from NC. Just crossing the border into NY State & going to the nearest Service Station for an Inspection & out of the State after the Inspection is complete; can I just lockup my Firearm & Ammo in my car Safe separate the Ammo. Will I be compliant?
    Thanks

  13. Brian H December 16, 2020 at 7:07 am #

    926a protects travel with a firearm from “place” to “any other place. It does not read “state” to “any other state”. So if I travel from central NH on the MA border with my firearm locked and unloaded in my trunk, through MA to Eastern NH; would that be safe harbor travel? My “place” where my travel began (NH) was a lawful “place”, and the destination (NH) “place” is also lawful. There is no difference between traveling from NH to RI through MA, or traveling from one part of NH through MA back to NH.

    • Jacob Paulsen December 16, 2020 at 7:38 am #

      Brian, absolutely. I agree with your summary.

  14. T.h. December 26, 2020 at 9:54 am #

    If I have to spend the night in a red state on the map, is that still considered “transporting”?

    • JG May 24, 2021 at 3:02 pm #

      Not usually. “Transporting” is generally understood as passing through. Staying the night would be “visiting.”

  15. George Palmer May 6, 2021 at 8:23 am #

    I am considering an Interstate highway driving route from Eastern NYS where I have a Resident CCW permit, through PA where I also have a Non Resident permit, through a short section in MD where I DON’T have a permit, then to W. VA on my way to AZ. My SUV has no trunk but plan to transport 3 locked, tethered under seat ammo boxes and a separate untethered lock box for my gun and empty magazines behind the seat. 1. Am I safe doing that? 2. Would placing the Gun case in my under floor spare tire compartment be a legal option?

    • Jacob Paulsen May 6, 2021 at 8:24 am #

      George the locked ammo boxes and lock box for gun combo are more than sufficient to meet the requirements.

  16. Darren May 21, 2021 at 4:22 pm #

    Two questions related to the same situation… Can private property owners, namely hotels, supercede 926A protection? In other words if a hotel has a policy forbidding even leaving the firearm secured in your vehicle (no need to debate the “security” of vehicles here) overnight while enroute on a journey (and not a destination), does that supercede 926A if followed?

    Secondly and related… if the firearm is disassembled and the slide taken in but the lower left secured in the vehicle (specifically still according to 926A), does that even constitute a “firearm” or just “parts”?

    • Jacob Paulsen May 21, 2021 at 4:25 pm #

      Darren, first it isn’t clear if you staying in a hotel is still “en route” or not. I’m not aware of any court precedents that would clarify that so up to your individual interpretation for now. As to the rights of a hotel to not allow anything at all (including a gun) on their property the court precedents for that are very clear. They can prohibit whatever they want. If you think those prohibitions are unreasonable your recourse would be a civil suit. Additional resources on that topic here https://www.concealedcarry.com/safety/concealed-carry-laws-and-tactics-for-hotels/ – Secondly, what does or doesn’t constitute a firearm is defined by the ATF. The serialized item is what is the firearm. So the slide for example is not a firearm. It is a firearm part.

    • JG May 24, 2021 at 3:03 pm #

      I would avoid trying to rely on 926A protection if staying the night in an unfriendly state. “Visiting” is different from “Transporting” or “passing through.”

  17. Tim_2A June 16, 2021 at 9:54 pm #

    One scumwad says to another: “Hey, what did that guy just put in his trunk? A gun case, or something?” They’d SURELY love to find out, wouldn’t they?

    If that box/container weighs two- or three-hundred pounds, and then a large prybar, a tire iron, or even a large screwdriver was used to open your trunk, MAYBE it’d escape being stolen.

    “Is that STUPID car alarm going off AGAIN??” Yeah, that won’t help either, because in big cities, you hear them ALOT. They just tell you that “it’s too late” to catch anyone. Kinda like 9-1-1.

    Is that storage box (made of steel, maybe like a 20mm ammo box, or at least a ‘fat .50’) bolted down to the floor of your trunk, or loose?

    All I’m saying is that those people behind sheer curtains, on rooftops, or using binoculars aren’t as easily seen as we’d like, so disguise your gun case with something that’s not so obvious.

    You should pretend that (in ‘unfriendly’ areas) everyone’s a sniper, with a spotter, and you’ll (probably) be okay.

    No, that’s not paranoia.

  18. Liston June 10, 2022 at 8:06 am #

    Friends don’t let friends take a firearm into NJ.

    If your plane gets diverted to Newark, and you take possession of your luggage containing a pistol, rent a car and drive to Philly ASAP.

    ALTERNATIVELY, declare it at the ticket counter, and get a free ride… To jail!

  19. Ken June 11, 2022 at 7:38 pm #

    A couple of years ago I flew from Texas into Boston Logan, rented a car and drove to the Sig Academy in NH relying on the FOPA. Picked up my Sig P320 in my checked luggage at the airport luggage carousel and, without opening it, put it in the trunk of the rental, drove out of Massachusetts. I thought “no problem.”

    Also, since I was going to an IDPA match that only allowed a ten round capacity, I only brought ten round mags. Sig was having a voluntary recall at the time, so when I was finished, I gave them the Sig and they shipped it home to me so I wouldn’t have to deal with declaring a gun in the Boston Logan airport.

    But what about traveling through a red state like Massachusetts that bans possession of “a large capacity feeding device” (magazine) and you are carrying your normal EDC handgun with your normal 15 round magazine. Even though you comply with the FOPA, I don’t see anything in the law that would protect you from being charged for possession of the magazine. Thoughts?

    • Matthew Maruster June 13, 2022 at 7:06 am #

      Thanks for the question Ken, the answer is something I will add to the post because I’m sure you’re not the only one wondering the same thing. The answer is FOPA doesn’t protect you in a state law that prohibits possession of a “high capacity” magazine, or “assault weapon”. Here is the case to reference for that ruling: Coalition of New Jersey Sportsmen v. Florio

  20. E E June 21, 2022 at 7:40 am #

    what a bunch of legal mumbo-jumbo! 1st, let’s ignore the fact that this so-called pro-gun legislation really does nothing but makes an anemic attempt at recognizing unConstitutional gun control laws by giving them a false legitimacy by providing a legalized exception.

    2nd, using new jersey’s unConstitutional law as mentioned in the article about “high capacity” magazines, how is it that new jersey’s corrupt court system is able to declare this bogus gun-control law still valid and thus effectively negating Article 926A of FOPA simply because someone is transporting a firearm (in accordance with Article 926A of FOPA, by the way) with a magazine that happens to be too scary for the new jersey politicians (not to mention that this mag cap. law is a TOTAL disregard for the US Constitution)?

    the whole purpose of Article 926A of FOPA is to allow a person to “legally” transport a firearm from one state to another and that all intermediate states must allow for this transportation through their states. by allowing a state to create a restrictive law out of thin air that contradicts Article 926A of FOPA, effectively nullifies Article 926A of FOPA!

    so what’s next? using new jersey’s unConstitutional law and subsequent ruling as a framework, what’s to stop other states from traitorously creating their own unConstitutional laws making the transportation of otherwise legal firearms illegal? pro-gun legal entities need to be fighting back on these infringements and helping citizens who are living their lives in light of the US Constitution to sue these political agencies as well as sue the politicians on a personal level for creating laws that endanger the average citizen (IOW, NO SETTLING OUT OF COURT)!

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